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Dec-23-2010 23:00printcommentsVideo

Pilger's 'The War You Don't See' is a Dose of Mind Numbing Reality

Pilger is right, there is no just excuse for the types of wars the west is waging.

John Pilger
John Pilger is a leader among the growing ranks of journalists who are also taking on the role of activist. Photo: fanonite.org

(SALEM, Ore.) - On the verge of understanding my own role in promoting the US wars overseas as a former embedded reporter, John Pilger's new program: The War You Don't See (2010, 95 mins), shoved me right off of the cliff of ignorance, into a painful valley of understanding.

Tim King in Afghanistan- Winter '07

I always thought I had a moral 'out' because even though I was a Marine, the only thing I ever shot in a war was my television camera. But as it turns out, when I confront this demon; I discover quite clearly that however small in comparison to some reporters, I was part of the problem.

And I can take it a step further; I videotaped both Afghan and Iraqi civilians and in some cases, those people were cooperating with the US military occupation. They didn't have a choice, and now I fear for what I have done. I pray that I didn't cause these people additional hardship by putting their images online.

I was just like the US military, and some would tell you I was the military. I took care of our terps whenever I went on patrol, never showing their faces unless they were covered. I wish all of the people I taped working with Americans had hidden their faces, but I wasn't bright or quick enough to put it together. We all owe John Pilger's stunning documentary a round of applause.

If I had not been an embedded journalist, my perspective would have been very different. When you approach a war zone from an American point of view, you miss the bigger picture, and it doesn't matter whether or not you came close to buying it, or getting hurt. That isn't the point, though it is what drives the death count. War is exactly like gang warfare in LA where I grew up. One side kills, the other side kills back. It is a never ending cycle just like gangland LA, only on a much bigger scale.

Tim in Ballad, Iraq summer - '08. Photo by Todd Farmer

With few exceptions, no Iraqi or Afghan people wanted a US military occupation. The Taliban, sporting their crazy overzealous version of Islam borrowed from the Wahhabi faith in Saudi Arabia, did treat Afghan citizens terribly, women in particular. That is one area where an intervention may have been a good idea, but the US and western world lost its chance to positively influence the outcome of Afghanistan's future after turning their backs in the wake of the Afghan Mujaheddin's victory against the Soviet Union.

The US helped the unified fighters, the same general group the Coalition is fighting today, and then left them hanging. The one man who could have brought the Afghans together is Ahmad Shah Massoud; he is a total hero to Afghans and had been a university student prior to becoming an anti-Soviet military leader. Massoud was moderate and he was murdered just before the 11 September 2001 series of attacks and explosions, plane crashes, etc.

While that particular aspect of the Afghan conflict is not mentioned by Pilger, he does confront the reality of the Iraq invasion; the PR campaign of mass murder against Iraqi civilians who had not lifted a finger toward the US. The truth is they never deserved to die and those who are still alive don't deserve to be saddled with the losses and memories that the nightmare US war has meant for them. Pilger is right. There was never a justifiable or even decent reason for the invasion of Iraq. The western world is a warring machine that relies on the profits from the military industrial complex that the United States has become.

Firmly along to broadcast government propaganda for the UK, US and Israel, is the mainstream western media. Among the world's most respected is The BBC. The network is exposed by Pilger for its ultra clear biases that play out each time Israel is mentioned in a story.

The case at hand is Israel's 31 May attack on a ship in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the 'Mavi Marmara'. Israeli commando troops from their most elite arm of the military, attacked the ship's unarmed peace activists with machine guns and 9mm pistols. They "executed" at least six innocent men including an 18-year old American at point blank range.

These highly questionable tactics of Israel's were dressed by the BBC as 'defensive' in nature. The coup de grĂ¢ce was Jane Corbin's performance in The BBC Hardtalk program, 'Death in the Med' which purposefully placed false information that very much contradicted the story's most basic facts, in the program's first :17 seconds.

Our writer Ken O'Keefe is one of the men who stood fast against the Israeli soldiers that day on the Mavi Marmara and he disarmed two of the murderous Israeli soldiers who moments before, had been shooting his own friends and shipmates. Those Israeli soldiers who were disarmed and taken captive, were given medical attention and released. This was the reality of what happened, but The BBC was quick to allow an Israeli spokesman to say that these unarmed peace activists had ties to terrorism.

The Israeli military thought they had collected every piece of data from the journalists aboard the Mavi Marmara, but they missed a crucial file of video that Iara Lee managed to get off the ship. This is all one needs to see to know that Israel's point of view was simply impossible, even ridiculous: Israeli Navy Attacks Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Pilger takes on The BBC, he questions US officials, and he doesn't apologize in the process. This veteran journalist and combat correspondent learned long ago how short and valuable a human life is. He refuses to remain quiet about the shame that envelops so many of us.

On one hand I can look at my reporting from those combat theatres and see how it benefited the families of the soldiers and Marines I spent time with. I see that value, but in order to feel good about it, we have to understand the potential horror it caused for the people who spent their whole lives in places I visited briefly.

My stories, most of them, justified war. I questioned the horrible abuse of Iraqi detainees that I witnessed one particularly harsh night and related in a story called, A Disturbing Night in Iraq: Witnessing the Abuse of 'Insurgent' Detainees; but recall at the same time saying things that I now know are not true. It is hard to take it back, in fact it is impossible.

Watch John Pilger's The War You Don't See and decide for yourself, my mind is made up. War is a horrible thing, we should avoid it at all cost as a modern supposedly civilized society.

Wikileaks and Assange

There are always children involved and as Wikileaks showed us, the spirit of the American fighting man is not always to take care of the badly injured child they nearly killed. In fact, in The War You Don't See, Pilger interviews one of the soldiers, Ethan McCord, who took children badly injured from the US helicopter attack on a group of Baghdad media reporters, to a waiting US military medical unit, but was told they would not treat them.

Many who fought in Iraq will tell you this type of attack on unarmed, unprovoked targets from a mile away, was very common. It isn't just sickening, it is our ultimate reality, yours and mine.

Julian Assange tells Pilger that a sprawling industrialist state is growing, becoming more and more secretive, and also becoming increasingly uncontrolled.

"This is not a sophisticated conspiracy controlled at the top. This is a vast movement of self-interest by thousands and thousands of players who are all working together and against each other to produce an end result, which is Iraq and Afghanistan and Colombia, and keeping that going," Assange said.

Stranger than fiction Order Now

It is therefore not a surprising revelation that leaked Pentagon documents indicate how US intelligence plans to destroy trust and undermine the credibility of WikiLeaks.

In John Pilger's 'The War You Don't See' an indictment on journalists thepeoplesvoice.org, Rady Ananda writes:

"The public needs to see The War You Don't See, but the film's target audience is professional journalists, whose complicity in spreading misinformation is most responsible for ongoing wars. Without media complicity, peace would break out."

We must always report the truth as journalists, regardless of which doors those stories open or close, and we have to work together to rid ourselves of leaders who cause these events to take place. This is what impeachment is about. We must never again allow a dictator-like leader resembling George W. Bush to do so much damage to this world. If the US military is preparing to attack an innocent country in the future, we will have to work together to expose the negative aspects of what this will mean to the world.

We need military leaders to stand down when they are given an order that they know is unlawful. Wikileaks is increasingly becoming our conscience and not just in America. Now we have John Pilger to fill in the blanks.

(From Tim King: The original set of videos posted here were stripped by YouTube and I guarantee it is over the facts cited by Pilger. Our writer John McCarthy tracked down the clip below and you should be able to go from part one to two and so on in the single frame. If this also goes dead and someone can alert us we appreciate it, and we will keep replacing it.)

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 65 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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